Google has signed a major power purchase agreement (PPA) that will see it offtake renewable electricity from a Scottish offshore wind farm. 

The agreement, struck with clean energy developer ENGIE, covers 100MW of the capacity from the 882MW Moray West offshore wind farm in the outer Moray Firth, which is expected to be fully operational in early 2025 with an operational life of over 25 years.

The deal will see Google UK operate at or near 90% carbon-free energy (CFE) on an hourly basis in 2025, from a projected 67%, and brings the tech giant closer to its goal of overarching goal of operating on carbon-free energy by 2030 across its UK offices and cloud regions.

Google said that achieving their 2023 goal “will ensure that every email you send through Gmail, every question you ask Google Search and every YouTube video you watch is supported by data centers where the energy is matched with local, carbon-free sources on an hourly basis”. 

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The PPA with ENGIE will also make the UK one of six Google Cloud regions, including Finland, Iowa, Montreal, Spain and Toronto, while will operate at or near 90% CFE, on an hourly basis, when it goes live in 2025, Google added.

The carbon-free energy deal is the latest in a series of UK investments by Google, following the purchase the Central Saint Giles office in central London and the topping out of Google’s London Kings Cross development, which will be the first, wholly owned and designed Google building outside the US.

Commenting on the announcement, Richard Lochhead MSP, Minister for Just Transition, Employment and Fair Work, said: “We all need to play our part in ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change, and the private sector has a key role in this journey. Scotland can show the rest of the world how it’s done – and ensure our people, businesses and communities are at the forefront of a greener, more sustainable economy.   

HeraldScotland: Google's Central Saint Giles office in LondonGoogle's Central Saint Giles office in London

“Our just transition to net zero presents many economic opportunities for our business community to embrace green innovation and investment, supporting our climate goals and benefitting our economy, environment and society. I welcome Google’s continuing efforts to cut its operating emissions and welcome this significant partnership between ENGIE to utilise Scotland’s abundant renewable energy generation to support its aim to be using carbon-free energy 24/7 by 2030.” 

Matt Brittin, President of Google EMEA, said of the agreement: “People across the UK and Europe are increasingly worried about climate change and energy security. We share that concern and believe technology is an important part of the solution - both by reducing our own emissions, and by helping others to reduce theirs.

This new investment in UK renewable energy brings us one step closer to reaching our goal of operating entirely on carbon-free energy by 2030, and means that, in the UK, we’ll be running on at or near 90% carbon-free energy in 2025.”

Paulo Almirante, ENGIE Senior EVP in charge of Renewables, Energy Management and Nuclear Activities, added: “We are very pleased to support Google in its progress towards its carbon-free target. As a major player in PPAs, ENGIE designs innovative green corporate PPAs for off-takers from offshore wind, thanks to the strong development of Ocean Winds, as we do for our onshore renewable projects. This contract demonstrates the strength of the Group's renewable portfolio, with 37 GW of renewable assets, a major advantage for our customers in their decarbonization strategy.”

The Moray West project is located on the Smith Bank in the outer Moray Firth, approximately 22.5km southeast of the Caithness coastline, and is the second offshore wind project in the Outer Moray Firth, after Moray East.

It is expected to generate enough electricity to power up to 640,000 homes at full capacity.